Posts Tagged ‘Google+’

Thoughts on the New Google Reader

October 31, 2011 @ 2:35 pm | Filed under:

Posted the following to Google+ but I like to archive things on my own site.

So. New Reader.

Like:

β€’ Share-to-Google+ is easy and convenient. Which is, of course, what Google is angling for: driving my sharing activity to this platform. Which makes this actually a dislike, because it feels like I’m being manipulated.

Dislike:

β€’ All the white space at the top—ordinarily I’m a fan of white space (I love the clean look of G+, for example), but in New Reader’s case, it serves to push the post text a good bit farther down the page. Means more scrolling, plus I like to start reading near the top of the screen, not a third of the way down. This layout is totally unworkable for smaller screens. (more…)

Google Reader’s About to Change

October 24, 2011 @ 10:19 am | Filed under:

…and I will miss your Shared Items sidebar widgets.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Google is shifting Reader toward a format more integrated with Google+:

As a result of these changes, we also think it’s important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader’s social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week’s time we’ll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.

(Sorry if this was confusing earlier—I forgot to blockquote the above.)

Well, dadgummit. I really like Google+, and I’m all for change if it makes things more convenient, but I have loved Reader’s sharing function. I especially love the “people you follow” part. Scott (among others I follow) routinely shares highly interesting items from his massive daily blogreading. Convenience is key: currently it requires no more effort on his part than clicking that Share button. I hope the new method is as easy—on both the sharing and reading ends.

Here’s a link to a Google+ sidebar widget. I’ll probably replace my “Made Me Click” sidebar widget with it.

Explorers, Homesteaders, & the Ways We Like

July 14, 2011 @ 8:05 am | Filed under:

Here’s a first—a post I wrote on Google+ first and am crossposting here instead of the other way around. Just some musings about my love of meta-discussion and about introverts vs. extroverts. (The fact that I can write a 600-word post there is one of the many reasons I am loving it.)

—————-

A Twitter conversation yesterday got me thinking about why I’ve had such an urge to write about Google+ both [there] and elsewhere—both how-to kinds of posts and meta-discussion about the nature and uses of [that] platform vs. others. Two reasons struck me:

1) Some people, and I’m one of them, enjoy puzzles. When I dive into a new app, platform, or network, I get a charge out of poking around, trying to figure out the tricks, puzzling out the easiest way to do things. I enjoy reading other people’s puzzle solutions; I like the challenge of putting my own hacks into words. The puzzle itself is part of what attracts the early-adopter in me.

But I have plenty of friends who don’t enjoy the puzzle stage. My husband—a brilliant guy; this isn’t about brains—will be the first to tell you he gets irritated when faced with a new platform to figure out. Change energizes me; it annoys him. And if he clicks onto a new site and discovers it’s going to take a little time to find his way around, meh, who has time for that? He’s a busy guy.

He’s not alone; I have many friends who are turned off by the baffled-newbie stage that I myself find so exhilarating. (Of course you know this means THEY are the folks who stick things out, who finish what they start. Some of us are explorers and some of us are homesteaders. Both kinds of people help build a civilization.)

Well, here I am in love with this new terrain, and I want my friends to settle in here and help build a culture. If I can help make it more appealing to them by helping other explorers make clear paths, I stand to benefit by the arrival of excellent neighbors.

2) Thinking about this, it hit me that for me, liking something is a social act. I enjoy everything more when I can talk about it with others. I don’t think all people are wired that way—actually, I think this may be a chief distinction between introverts and extroverts. For some people (again I hold +Scott Peterson up as an example), liking something is a private, inner experience, not at all dependent on the involvement of others. In fact, if too many other people start enthusing over the thing too, that can actually diminish the introvert’s enjoyment. For the extrovert, it’s the more, the merrier.

(Let me make it clear that I LOVE and admire introverts. I married one, didn’t I! And my passel of vert offspring is pretty evenly divided between intro and extro. I have shared Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic Monthly article, “Caring for Your Introvert,” far and wide.)

For years I have looked at the introvert/extrovert distinction as having mostly to do with what drains you & recharges your batteries (as described in Raising Your Spirited Child). Some people get recharged by social contact with others; some people get recharged by time alone. In the past I have described myself as an extrovert with a strong introvert streak because I do need a fair amount of time alone to read and think and write.

But what struck me yesterday, pondering the G+ meta-urge, was that even in my alone time, what I do is social. I read—but even as I’m reading I’m thinking about talking about the book, blogging about it, putting my experience of the book into words to share with others. I write—for readers, for sharing stories, for dialogue, for an exchange of ideas. I happily spend my free time communicating with other people on social networks. And for me, a huge part of the fun of a new discovery is TALKING about the new discovery.

All of which is why I’ve never met a Meta I didn’t like. πŸ™‚

Google+ Notes

July 5, 2011 @ 4:08 pm | Filed under:

I’m going to post twice today: once about Google+, and then another one about ANYTHING BUT Google+ so as not to drive away my non-Plus-interested friends and readers here.

(Heh. Nonplussed.) πŸ˜‰

But Plus. A few more thoughts. First: if you’re trying to get in and haven’t yet, there are a few things you can do to help. At least—it sure seems like these things help, because everyone I know who has tried them has gotten to that magic Join button. But take my words with grains of salt; the efficacy of these suggestions is speculation.

1) Create or update your Google profile. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a profile: Click your name in the top right of your Gmail screen and you’ll see a link. Even if you don’t use Gmail, you might have created a Google account at some point—for Reader, perhaps? So check, and tweak it.

2) Ask me or another Plus user to add you to a circle. We can send you an invite by simply sending a G+ message via email, but those emails may take 24 hours or more to arrive. Don’t wait for the invitation: go directly to step 3.

3) Visit the Google+ website: plus.google.com. If you see a “we’ve exceeded capacity” message, try again an hour or two later. But if you’ve done step one, you will probably get in within 24 hours. Again, this is anecdotal info only: I’m seeing it happen frequently, so I’m passing the suggestion along, for what it’s worth.

Okay, so you’re in: now what?

You’ll quickly find that Plus’s “Circles” concept is a lot like Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Actually, it combines aspects of each, and once you wrap your head around the distinction between people you share with and people you read, you’ll find Circles are an intuitive and convenient way of organizing your various overlapping circles of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

For me, the shape Circles are taking is a distinction between “friends”—reciprocal relationships, people I follow who follow me back, most of whom I already have some kind of real-life or online relationship with—and people I “follow,” Twitter-style: people who don’t necessarily know me and have no real reason to follow me back, but in whose posts I am interested.

I love that Google+ is allowing me to make full use of those nuances. On Facebook, the friends lists are a pain to use, so I wind up posting everything to ALL my friends, and there’s a very complicated dynamic there with all my worlds converging. My relatives don’t necessarily want to be bombarded with my kidlitosphere links, nor do my professional contacts necessarily want to hear every adorable thing Rilla utters. (But my family does, believe you me.)

On Google+, you can easily target the audience of any post, making it Public (like a tweet with no character limit—visible to anyone who follows you as well as on your profile page) or aiming it at a specific circle, or even a single friend. You can even cc people who aren’t on Plus at all; they’ll get the post by email. (A feature I gather most folks are using lightly at the moment.)

Here’s a link to a post I wrote on Google+ this morning, about how I’m using Circles so far.

Other things I really like:

1. Data liberation. You can download all your content. That’s huge!

2. The smart and lively comment-thread discussions, which are unhindered by character limits.

3. But if a thread gets too noisy for you and you don’t want new-reply notifications anymore, you can click a mute button. Think of all those times on Facebook when you joyfully congratulate your friend on her new baby—and then for the next week you’re getting a notification every time someone else says congrats.

4. I can bookmark links and send notes to my Evernote account! (Create an empty circle and add your Evernote email address. Voila. You can access the notes anytime by clicking on the circle within g+, or go to Evernote.)

Hangouts (group chats) sound fun but I haven’t tried one yet ARE SUPER FUN. Most seem to be video chats, so I’d have to brush my hair. (I DIDN’T.)

Okay. Pitch over. We now return to your regularly scheduled Bonny Glen posting. πŸ™‚

Related:
5 Things I Really Like about Google+
Buckle Up, Unette

Buckle Up, Unette

July 3, 2011 @ 7:35 pm | Filed under: ,

monarch caterpillars 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve spotted our first monarch cats of the year. From the size of this guy, you’d think we’d have cottoned to him a little sooner, eh?

And our blueberry bushes managed to produce four perfect, perfectly delicious berries. We lost most of the buds weeks ago, unfortunately—transplant shock, I’m guessing. They came home from the nursery LOADED with blossoms but most of them fell off prematurely. Ah well. Those four berries were jewels. Rose, Beanie, and I each had one—no one else here likes them, can you believe it??—and the girls insisted that I take the extra, because the bushes were my Mother’s Day present.

I’m looking at this caterpillar and thinking that another huge metamorphosis is about to occur…after two days on Google+, I have to say I think it’s a game-changer. A year from now, we’re all going to be internetting very differently, mark my words. Not just my words: the murmurings are everywhere. All my musings these past months over the best way to share links and save clippings and log read-alouds and keep in touch with loved ones and and and—well, suddenly there’s this one place where you can do all of those things, and email and chat and etc etc etc—and whether such an entity appeals to you or not, it’s going to change the landscape for all of us in one way or another.

I say this not without trepidation and cautiousness; it’s unsettling to contemplate handing one entity that much power. But a streamlined web life has tremendous appeal. I’ll proceed watchfully but enthusiastically. (And I’m not ditching Facebook…yet. Not ever, as long as my family is there.)

Five Things I Really Like about Google+

July 1, 2011 @ 12:20 pm | Filed under:

Google+ is, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, YET ANOTHER SOCIAL NETWORK. It’s Facebook, Google-style: a way to see status updates, links, photos, and videos shared by people you know. I’m laughing as I write this, because I know a lot of people who avoid Facebook like the plague, and many others who only put up with its many annoyances for the sake of direct daily contact with family and close friends.

What on earth, you may be thinking, do we need with another social network?

Well, it seems Google is going to try to convince us their version is better than the others. Is it? Too soon to say, but it has potential. Of course, there’s a bit of a vicious circle at work in the startup phase of any social network: the network is only satisfactory if enough users come on board. Right now, in this early rollout phase, not many folks are there, so it’s a pretty quiet place. But all morning new faces have been popping up on my notifications page. The early adopters are coming.

Here are five things I like about it so far:

1) Clean, simple, uncluttered layout.

No ads! The home page has three columns: on the left, a list of your Circles (more on those in a second); on the right, something similar to Facebook’s Friends sidebar, but Google+ shows profile icons only, not names; and in the center, the equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed—the status updates & links shared by people in your Circles. There are no surprises there; what I like is the simplicity.

2) Fast, easy access to custom-tailored update feeds.

On Facebook, if I want to see what my college friends are up to, I have to click a minimum of three times to get to the screen I want. On Google+, it’s one click from the home page. One easy click—the list of Circles is right there in the left sidebar, as I mentioned above. A “Circle” is the same thing as a Friends list on Facebook—but Google+ seems to recognize that keeping in touch with groups of friends is one of the main reasons people use social networks in the first place. That is, Google+ puts a priority on grouping. You sort your Google+ “friends” into Circles, and you can choose easily between a single Circle (like if you want to see Family updates only) or your entire “Stream”—updates from everyone in all your circles, equivalent to Facebook’s News Feed. The hassle of getting to my individual Facebook friends’ lists is my second-biggest Facebook complaint (their privacy issues are the biggest), so this easy Circles function has huge appeal for me.

3) Easy to decide who sees what.

Sometimes you want to post an update for the whole world to see. Other times, it’s just meant for your family. Or your work friends. Or the small group of people you know who may appreciate a link about a rare flavor of Mentos. Google+ makes custom-targeting of your own updates very quick and easy.

4) No pesky game updates!

For now, at least.

5) Better profile page.

When you click to someone’s Google+ profile, you’ll see tabs at the top:

Posts are like Facebook status updates.

About is your info page, your Google+ Profile. As far as I can tell, this is the same thing as the Google Profile you may already have, if you have a gmail account. . (Even if you don’t have gmail, you may have set up a Google profile in order to log into certain sites.)

If you do have a Google Profile, you may want to give it some attention this week—Google seems to be stepping up Profile visibility, not just via Google+ but also the new “+1” feature you’ll see on Google search pages and other sites from now on. When you plus-one a site, that’s like Facebook-liking it. Your +1 endorsement will show up on Google searches.

Like this:

This is from a browser that was logged into Scott’s gmail account. You can see that both he (the kittyfrog) and I have +1’d the site in question.

Whether you’re sharing your +1’s or not, people you know might be looking up your Google Profile as they set up their own Google+ accounts, so that’s why I’m saying it’s a good idea to take a look at your profile and see what’s being shown to the world. One particularly nice feature is that you can view your profile the way others see it, to make sure you’re revealing only the information you wish to.

Bottom line: whether you climb on the Google+ bandwagon or not, people are probably going to be viewing your Google Profile!

As for Google+, will I be sticking with it? Well, in all seriousness, that depends entirely on whether a critical mass of my friends and family climb on board. If you all stay on Facebook, so will I—because I’m there to see you, after all.

But for now, one day in, I can say that Google+ is behaving like the Facebook I wish I had.